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I once bought a jar of caramelised onion chutney at a fayre and promised myself that one day I would hunt out a recipe and make some myself.   It is a really useful addition to the store cupboard: delicious with cheese or cold meat, so especially good around Christmas when there are plenty of cold cuts, but also good stirred into gravy to add extra flavour.  If you like hot dogs then you could substitute this chutney for the fried onions and if you like sausage rolls then why not try the recipe on this site for Sausagemeat Plait substituting Caramelised Red (or White if you prefer) Onion Chutney for the Fennel & Apple Chutney.

Finding nothing particularly useable in my recipe books, I turned to the web and discovered several helpful recipes, in particular one from Tesco called Caramelised Onion Chutney, but I consulted other recipes as well.  One of these Red Onion & Balsamic Chutney, a Lesley Waters recipe on the Good Food Channel site, added orange which I wanted to include in my recipe, having made some onion marmalade (a mixture of seville orange and onions) some years ago. The Tesco recipe used a pinch of chill, but I used Piment d’Espelette as an alternative.  The recipe did not specify the type of onion, so I assume that it should be white ones, however as I had plenty I used red onions instead.  The only comment I would make is that I would have preferred the chutney to be pinkish rather than brown, reflecting the rosy colour of the onions.  The darkening came both from the brown sugar, even though I used light brown, the dark balsamic vinegar and the red wine vinegar.  If I did this again I woudl certainly use white wine vinegar and white balsamic vinegar and possibly white granulated sugar as well.   Ideally this recipe should be kept to mature for 6 – 12 months, according to the Tesco recipe.  I made mine at the start of November so by Christmas it will have matured for almost 2 months: not quite long enough I know but I plan to keep one jar by for next Christmas to see if it really does improve with age.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Caramelised Red Onion Chutney
(3 x 500g/1lb jars)

3tbsp olive oil
1·5kg/3lb onions – I used red onions
zest & juice of 1 orange
300g/10oz light muscovado sugar (or white granulated to help preserve colour)
200ml/7fl oz red wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar to help preserve colour)
3tbsp balsamic vinegar (or white to help preserve colour)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp wholegrain mustard
½tsp salt
large pinch paprika
large pinch crushed chillies or Piment d’Espelette (Espelette pepper)

1.  Peel and thinly slice the onions.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan and using a low heat gently fry them for 10 minutes until they have softened.  They must not brown.

2.  Stir in 3 tbsp sugar.  Turn up the heat and cook the chutney for 3-4 minutes and allow the onions to brown, although if you want to preserve the pink colour of the chutney try not to let them brown very much.  Stir in the rest of the sugar and then add the remaining ingredients.

3.  Simmer the mixture gently for 10-15 minutes.  The liquid should reduce, the mixture thicken and turn a dark caramel colour.  (This instruction comes from the original: using white vinegars and sugar should hopefully preserve the colour a little better although adding the sugar will make it darken a little.)

4.  Wash the jars well and sterilise them.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.

5.  Pot while still hot into the pre-prepared sterilised jars. Screw on the lids well and then turn upside down until cool, which helps with the seal, after which they can be labelled.  This can be eaten immediately but also keeps well.

7.  If you can wait that long it is recommended that this chutney is stored for 6 – 12 months before use.

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I was intending to start this post by being a bit clever, quoting “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche“, writing something about French Queen Marie Antoinette and mentioning the common inaccurate translation of her phrase as “Let them eat cake”…  I am so glad I checked the details before writing!  The quote is correct, but is often wrongly attributed to Marie Antoinette wife of Louis XVI.  The words were said by Marie-Therese, the wife of King Louis XIV who lived around 100 years previously. So not what I had thought, but interesting nonetheless and I thought worth sharing!  Back to the subject in hand… One of our first purchases on arrival in France is a Brioche loaf. We find it so useful: it keeps well, is good for breakfast and handy for emergency use.  Brioche and Gâche Vendéenne (its cousin from the Vendée region in Western France) are soft, light, puffy and slightly sweet crosses between cake, pastry and bread.  They are made from a yeast dough enriched with butter and egg and often flavoured with rum, brandy or – our favourite – fragrant orange flower water.  Some years ago on holiday I bought recipe postcards and a bottle of orange flower water with the intention of making brioche.  I even bought a fluted Brioche tin.  Until now I had not got round to making the brioche although I have used the tin for jellies! and the orange flower water in other recipes (including Fragrant Marmalade Cake and Moroccan Style Beef Stew with Oranges & Beetroot).

Orange flower water can now easily be found in the UK and is the one ingredient we feel gives brioche that little extra something, however it was not an ingredient in my Brioche postcard recipe so I turned first to books and then the Internet for help.  I eventually found the recipe below, Brioche with Fleur d’Oranger posted by Gary at Meltingpan.com  I would have left him a note to say how successful his recipe had been, but could not see where add a comment and the site now seems to have disappeared completely (I have left the links in case it does re-appear). Gary recommended it spread with unsalted butter but never toasted, though I have to say I think it makes lovely toast!  Initially I carefully made a half quantity but will definitely be making the full amount in future.  I used the French method of dough making, where the dough is thrown and scraped which makes the initial extreme stickiness easier to manage.  Do ‘stick’ with the recipe and it will eventually come together into a smooth ball.  Once you have this it can be kneaded in the conventional English way.  Brioche, apparently, makes a delicious rich bread and butter pudding, but I am not sure we will ever have any left to make one!  The recipes for Paddington Pudding (Marmalade Bread & Butter Pudding) or Toffee Apple Croissant Bread & Butter Pudding could easily be adapted.  I shaped my loaf by dividing into three strands and plaiting them before putting into a tin, which is the usual shape of the loaves we buy.  Probably the most familiar shape is the brioche à tête (literally ‘bun with a head’) usually made in the fluted tin with a small ‘top knot’ of dough added on top, similar to a Cottage Loaf.  La Gâche Vendéenne is torpedo shaped and slashed from end to end.  The Brioche (or Couronne) des Rois, translated as King’s Brioche or King’s Crown, comes from Provence in the south of France (this linked recipe looks good but is untried) and is normally a ring shaped loaf decorated with crystallised fruits.  It is served on 6 January at Epiphany, the feast celebrating the Wise Men’s visit to the infant Christ.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Brioche

The original recipe advised that if you have a bread machine you simply put in all the ingredients apart from the butter. Put it on the dough setting and after about 10 minutes (or whenever it alerts you to add nuts or other ingredients) add the softened butter. Although I have a bread machine I used the conventional method so cannot comment on the success or otherwise of using a machine.  The instructions were not very clear but I assume that the brioche was kneaded in the machine but cooked conventionally in the oven.

300g of white flour, sifted
2 eggs, beaten
50ml of milk
10g of dried active yeast
50g of sugar
3 tablespoons of Fleur d’Oranger (Orange Flower Water)
70g of unsalted butter, cubed and softened
1 teaspoon of salt

For the loaf pan(s):
2 tablespoons of melted butter
2 tablespoons of sugar

1.   Preheat oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 and place a pan of water on the lowest rack.

2.  Sieve the flour into a bowl.  Add the salt and sugar and then the dried yeast.

3.  Warm the milk slightly, which helps the yeast to start to grow more quickly and stir into the dry ingredients along with the beaten eggs and orange flower water.

4.  Gently mix together with one hand adding the butter little by little.  The mixture will be very sticky.  Avoid adding extra flour at any point as this makes the dough tough.

5.  Turn out onto a cleaned work surface and start to knead, bringing the edges in with a dough scraper or a palette knife.  It will come together eventually if you keep working at it and the dough will eventually form a soft ball.  Continue stretching and scraping until conventional kneading is possible.  This took at least 20 minutes.

6.  Once you have a soft ball of dough that is no longer sticky put it in a bowl, cover it with a tea-towel and let it sit in a warm place for 20 minutes to allow it to rise.

7.  Meanwhile butter the loaf pan (or pans) and shake over sugar so it is well coated.  The sugar can, of course, be omitted.

8.  When risen knock the dough back and knead well for a further 20 minutes.

9.  Make either one large or two smaller loaves.  Before placing the dough in the pan(s) the dough can be split into three strands and plaited or shaped into a long loaf with a gash cut down its length.

10.  Drop the dough into the prepared loaf pan(s), cover with a clean tea towel and leave it in a warm area for 20-30 minutes to allow it to rise again.

11.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.  The finished loaf/loaves will be golden brown and doubled in size.

12.  Turn out of the pan(s) and cook on a wire rack.  Eat and enjoy!

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A few weeks ago I made sweet scones as part of a special afternoon tea for Mum and Dad on Mothering Sunday and they were a great success.  So last weekend on Father’s Day, with Mum and Dad coming to tea again, I decided to make scones again, but this time Savoury ones: with cheese both in the mix and crusted on the top.  It is a lovely flavourful recipe with the strong cheese flavour enhanced by mustard and cayenne pepper giving a spicy bite, the strength of which of course can be adjusted to taste.  They would also be delicious with a little fried onion added to the mix or on top – or both.  These scones are perfect at tea time or in lunch boxes, at Summer picnics or served with a warming Winter soup in place of bread.

As with the sweet scones the source for this recipe was Delia Smith’s recipe Cheese Crusted Scones from the original version of her Book of Cakes. It is a straightforward fairly standard cheese scone recipe and I made it exactly as per the instructions, apart from slightly lessening the spices.  In particular I used less cayenne as the one I have from our local ethnic shop is rather fiery.  I didn’t want to spoil the scones by making them too hot!  The recipe below is a doubled version: somehow the eight smallish scones I made didn’t seem enough.  As with the sweet scones I have added a list of other savoury scones further down this page: recipes from books I own and from cookery sites online that I may well make at some point.  If I do make any and post them on this site I will add a link.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Cheese Crusted Scones
(Makes 12-16 scones)

12ozs/350g self raising flour
2ozs/60g butter
60zs/170g finely grated strong Cheddar cheese
2 large eggs
4-6tbsp milk (and a little more if needed)
½tsp salt
1tsp English mustard powder (or less if you wish)
2-4 large pinches cayenne pepper
A little extra milk

1.  Preheat the oven to 220oC/425oF/Gas 7 and thoroughly grease a large baking sheet (or two smaller ones).

2.  Sift the flour into a bowl along with the mustard powder, salt and half of the cayenne pepper and mix together.

3.  Rub in the butter with finger tips until well combined.  Mix in most of the grated cheese leaving the remainder (around a generous 2 tbsp) to use later as a topping.

4.  Beat the eggs with 4tbsp milk and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix together to form a soft dough that leaves the bowl clean, adding a little more milk as required if the mixture seems dry.  Try to avoid working the mixture too much as this will make the scones hard.

5.  On a well floured surface, to avoid sticking, gently roll the dough as evenly as possible to a thickness of ¾inch/2cm.  I like to cut savoury scones into square shapes (using rounds for sweet scones) and this can be done with a knife.  If the dough is formed into an oblong shape it can be cut into the required number of equally sized pieces which will avoid it having to be reworked.  Depending on size required, bearing in mind they will rise in the oven, aim for 12-16 pieces.

6.  Brush the tops with a little more milk, sprinkle equally with the reserved cheese and, if you wish, very lightly dush with some more cayenne pepper.

7.  Place evenly spaced on the baking sheets, allowing a little room for rising.  Bake for 12-15 minutes (or a little longer if necessary) until the cheese has started to crust and the scones are browned.  Cool on a wire rack.

8.  Serve warm or cold with or without butter but the scones are best eaten the day they are cooked.  Next day reheating a little is recommended.  Fillings such as ham, tuna, chutney or tomato are also suggested, as is topping with a fried, poached or scrambled egg.

Alternative recipes for savoury scones (untried):
Cheese & Fried onion Scones (see my note above)
Cheese & Sweetcorn Scones – The Omniverous Bear/Good Food
Potato Scones – Delia Smith – Book of Cakes (original version)
Tattie (Potato) Scones – London Eats
Cheese & Marmite Scones – For Forks Sake
Buttermilk Scones with Cheshire Cheese & Chives – Delia Smith online
Feta, Olive & Sun Dried Tomato Scones – Delia Smith online
Savoury Herb Scones – Cook it Simply
Peppadew & Chive Scones – The Complete Cookbook
Cheese & Chive Scones – Lavender & Lovage
Cheese Scones with a Chilli kick –  Searching for Spice
Ham & Cheese Muffins (not quite scones but almost) – Slightly Domesticated Dad

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A Cream Tea is a special treat, much anticipated and usually taken at a leisurely pace when on holiday in the UK.  Some cream teas have stayed long in my memory: a seaview cafe at Lyme Regis in Dorset, the Lee Abbey Tea Cottage in Somerset…   I particularly recall a sunny afternoon birthday Cream Tea we booked for my father taken on board the Pride of Lee, whilst leisurely drifting along the River Lea on the borders of Essex and Hertfordshire. What exactly is a Cream Tea?  Usually it comprises sweet scones with thick cream and strawberry (or another flavour) jam (sometimes butter too – choose all or some) plus tea to drink, apparently the idea could date back as far as the 11th Century.  I knew this was exactly what I wanted to include as part of the Mothering Sunday Afternoon Tea I prepared this year.  The cakes were made in advance, leaving enough time to finish the ‘baguette bite’ sandwiches and make the scones on the Sunday afternoon.

On this occasion I chose to make plain scones, which are actually very slightly sweet, using Delia Smith’s recipe for Devonshire Scones from the original version of her Book of Cakes.  It was a simple fairly standard recipe, as far as I could see, but without the added instructions to egg-wash the top of the scones for a golden brown shiny finish.  I am sure this could be done if wished, but it was an extra job on a busy afternoon I was glad not to have to do (especially as my guests were about to knock on the door).  Scones just have to be made fresh on the day they are eaten: they are not the same the following day. However, a tip from my grandmother, slightly sour milk can be used for scones. This does work, but I usually don’t have time to make them when the milk is off! Speed and a light touch are essential: a heavy handed approach leads to solid scones. Some cooks even recommend that the dough is cut with a knife rather than using cutters.  On this page there is first this basic recipe for a plain scone with just a little sugar for sweetness, but eventually other sweet variations will appear here, including scones with fruit (raisins/sultanas or cherries), treacle scones, for example.  There will eventually be a separate post – Basic Recipe: Savoury Scones for those containing cheese and other savoury ingredients.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Devonshire Scones
(Makes 10-12 scones)

8ozs/225g self-raising flour, sieved
1½ozs/40g butter, at room temperature
¼pint/150ml milk (slightly soured is fine)
1½level tsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
To serve:
40zs/100ml clotted cream
or
¼pint/150ml whipped double
Jam – usually strawberry, raspberry or blackcurrant

1.  Preheat oven to 220oC/425oF/Gas 7.  Grease a baking tin.

2.  Sieve the flour into a bowl and quickly rub in the butter using fingertips.  Stir in the sugar and the pinch of salt.

3.  Using a knife mix in the milk a little at a time.  When combined gently bring the mixture together with floured hands into a soft dough.  If it is a little dry then add a drop more milk.

4.  Gently shape on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured hands until about ¾-1inch/2cm-2.5cm thick.  There are mixed views over whether using a rolling pin is a good idea: Delia Smith uses a lightly floured one but I was always taught to use my hands.

5.  Cut rounds with a 1½-2inch/4-5cm fluted pastry cutter (but without twisting to avoid misshapen scones).  Once as many as possible have been cut then gently bring the dough together and cut again.  Try to roll out as little as possible to avoid toughening the scones.  Alternatively, the squares can be cut with a sharp knife.

6.  Place the scones on the greased baking tin and dust each with a little flour.  Bake near the top of the oven for 12-15 minutes.  When done the will be risen and golden brown.

7.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool and eat soon – slightly warm is lovely.  Serve spread with butter and/or cream and/or jam – all three if you wish.

Alternative recipes for sweet scones (untried):
Treacle Scones – Delia Smith’s Book of Cakes
Wheatmeal Date Scones – Delia Smith’s Book of Cakes
Scones with dried fruit: sultanas/raisins/cranberries/dates/apricots/figs …
Quick & Easy Fluffy Scones (like the idea of yoghurt in the mix) Normal in London (E17)
Fruited Scones – sozzled (fruit soaked in liqueur) – Good Food Channel
Fresh Strawberry (or other fruit) scones via Arugulove
Lavender Scones – All recipes
Rose Petal Scones (with Rosewater)  – Good Food Channel
Ginger Beer Scones via Dan Lepard: Guardian
Lemonade Scones – Fig Jam & Lime Cordial
Lemonade Scones – Good Food Channel
Oat and Maple Syrup Scones – Smitten Kitchen via Cake, Crumbs and Ccoking
Vanilla Almond scones via Dan Lepard: Guardian
Chocolate Scones via Chocolate Log Blog
Apple Scones via Lavender & Lovage
Cherry Scones – CWS Family Fare
Ginger Scones – CWS Family Fare
Honey Scones – CWS Family Fare

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Some time ago, in my search for alternative fruit curd recipes I found one for Banoffee Curd, posted by vintagehearth, which I have just got round to making.  I have to say it was delicious!

I made two slight changes, using soft light brown rather than dark brown sugar for a paler colour and adding lemon juice.  The sharpness of the lemon cuts through the sweetness of the curd and has the added bonus of helping keep the bananas pale in colour.  My only other advice would be to double the quantity of this recipe.  It takes only a little longer to cook a double batch and the single jar (and a bit over) yielded by 2 eggs is gone too quickly!  Apart from spreading on bread or toast, this would be wonderful as a cake filling or could be layered with crushed biscuits and cream or sweetened crème fraîche with some slices of fresh banana for an easy dessert.   When hunting for the original recipe again, I came across a second almost identical recipe, at the fruits of my labour which is for four rather than two eggs.  I would still add the lemon juice as well. 

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Banoffee Curd
(Makes 1 and a bit jars)

10oz/280g soft light brown sugar
2 medium/large bananas
2oz/50g butter
2 eggs, beaten
Juice of ½ lemon (my addition)

1.  Using a fork mash the bananas in a large heatproof bowl.  (I found that they did not need pushing through a sieve but you can do this if you wish.) 

2.  Mix in the sugar well, which will help break up the bananas.

3.  Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Cut the butter into small pieces and add, stirring until it’s melted.  

4.  Mix in the eggs. Simmer gently until cooked, stirring regularly so that the thicker layer on the bottom is mixed through.

5.   Meanwhile wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.  Shake as much water from them as possible before filling.
Alternatively put the jars in an oven set to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 for 10 minutes.  Be careful to put them on a dry surface when removing or they could crack.  Lids can be placed in a small pan of boiling water.  Shake as much water from the lids as possible before filling.

6.  Pot the curd into sterilised jars.  Once the jars are filled and the lids well screwed on, invert them to improve the heat seal.  Turn the jars the right way up once they are cool.

7.  All curds should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a month of production as they contain egg.

More curd recipes… (Comments to be left on the Curds page, please)
091005/101212

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This jam contains a surprise – a secret ingredient: secret because it is there but you cannot taste it (at least we could not) but essential for bulking up the other ingredients so you can make a good quantity.   It is a perfect recipe for using up a glut of courgettes, or for when you find one hiding under a leaf which has reached marrow sized proportions – or are the recipient of post Harvest Festival bounty!  The secret ingredient is, as you have probably guessed, courgette or marrow…

I came across this at Tinyinc where it was called Marrow & Ginger Jam, but I have renamed it: the jam was very gingery and very lemony (but so ‘un-marrowy’)!   I made just a few small tweaks to the original recipe. Firstly, I weighed the marrow and used this as a measure for the other ingredients using 1 lemon and 30g root ginger for each 40-45g unpeeled marrow/courgette and sugar equalling the weight of the marrow/courgette).  Secondly, as with Tinyinc’s recipe, I did not want lumps of vegetable in my jam so I liquidised the marrow down to a puree, which made it silky smooth, apart from the ginger and lemon shreds.   Thirdly, I grated the ginger and added the outer peelings to the bag containing the lemon pips and shells.  I find a bag made from the (clean!) knotted foot of a pair of old tights makes a really good alternative to my muslin bag which would have been far too big for this. Fourthly, I used ordinary sugar without added pectin with no setting problems. I did wonder if it needed some apple to help the set, but risked a batch without finding it set easily.  This is a wonderful jam, with a translucent yellow colouring not dissimilar to lemon curd, which I know will become a family favourite and I can see myself making again and again.  Tinyinc advised that the flavour matures and intensifies if the jam is stored first (which may prove difficult).  As for uses, apart from spreading on bread or toast, (a good alternative to ginger marmalade), tonight I stirred some into yoghurt with some lightly poached figs (apple, pear or plum would be good too) – it would also be delicious as a cake filling.  When you have made this jam, don’t tell people the secret – see if they can guess – surprise them!

Warning: Do not try to make a double batch in one pan.  Reducing the extra liquid will be difficult and leaving it to cook down for a long time could lead to the sugars burning.  I speak from experience!  I apply this rule to all home made jams and chutneys: nothing worse than a bitter burnt flavour lurking in the background.  I find using the widest saucepan I have gives the biggest surface area for the quick evaporation of liquid.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Surprise Lemon & Ginger Jam
(Makes about 3 x 1lb jars)
Weigh the marrow/courgette first and adjust the recipe proportionately: 1 lemon and 30g unpeeled ginger to 40-45g vegetable.  The weight of sugar should be the same as unpeeled marrow/courgette.  The quantities below are those specified in the original recipe.

1.25kg marrow or courgette (peeled, deseeded and in small dice)
1.25kg white sugar
3 lemons
90g fresh root ginger (peeled and grated)

1.   Put two or three saucers in the freezer.  (These will be used to test to see if the jam is cooked enough to set.)  Peel the marrow, remove the seeds and cut into small dice.  Place in a large saucepan.

2.  Remove the lemon zest using a zester, if available, or the large holes of a grater (being careful not to remove any white pith) and set aside.  Cut the lemon in half and squeeze into a jug.  Place the empty lemon shells and pips into a small muslin bag (or foot section of a clean pair of tights).

3.  Add a small amount of the lemon juice to the pan, cover with a lid and gently cook the marrow until transparent.  If necessary add some more lemon juice to stop the marrow sticking.  Spoon the marrow and any collected liquids into a blender and liquidise until smooth.  Alternatively the mixture can be mashed for a slightly coarser texture or, providing the dice are very small, left as it is.

4.  Peel the ginger, grate using the large holes of the grater and add to the lemon zest.  Add the ginger peelings and any very fibrous pieces to the small bag with the leftover lemon pieces.

5.  Return the marrow mixture to the same pan, add the remaining lemon juice, the lemon and ginger.  Stir in and dissolve the sugar.  Knot the bag of bits and add it to the pan.

6.  Bring the mixture to the boil and then turn down to a rolling simmer.  Stir regularly, pressing down on the bag of bits occasionally and reduce until the mixture has reached setting point.  Test for a set by putting a half teaspoon of jam on a saucer from the freezer.  If, once it has cooled a little, it wrinkles when pushed with a finger, it should be ready to pot.  If not ready then leave for 5 minutes and try again.  (This took about 25 minutes for two-thirds of the full amount above.)

7.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.  Shake as much water from them as possible before filling.
Alternatively put the jars in an oven set to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 for 10 minutes.  Be careful to put them on a dry surface when removing or they could crack.  Lids can be placed in a small pan of boiling water.  Shake as much water from the lids as possible before filling.

8.  Remove the small bag of bits, scraping the jam from the outside and squeezing it with tongs and place it on a saucer.  Any extra juices that collect on the saucer should be stirred back into the jam before you start potting.

9.  Pot into the prepared jars.  Cool and label.

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A fruit compote is a mixture of lightly baked or stewed fruit or fruits, usually combined with a sweetener and served either hot or cold as an accompaniment to ice cream, yoghurt, crème fraîche, soured cream, cold or hot rice pudding or similar.  It is also delicious served with a slice of egg custart tart or alongside a fairly plain dessert cake, with a little single cream poured over.  When on holiday cold fruit compote is usually available at breakast in French motels: cherry/raspberry or apple are both very popular and there is always yoghurt available to eat.  However Compote is a traditional English dessert dating from the 17th century, being whole or pieces of fruit in sugar syrup.  The syrup may also be flavoured: vanilla, lemon/orange peel, cinnamon, clove, ground almonds, grated coconut, candied fruit, or raisins are common additions.  Honey can be used as an alternative sweetener.  I have read and heard in several places recently the benefits of sweetening fruit with fructose (natural fruit sugar).  Apparently, using just a third of the quantity of normal sugar (sucrose) really enhances the flavour of fruit.  I have not tried this myself but it is certainly something to bear in mind and I have just bought a small packet.  I would be interested to hear of any readers experiences on using fructose in place of sucrose – I am not talking about aspartame, a sugar substitute which is banned in some countries. 

This idea was found at two sources, but is my own variation: a mixture of an idea from a recipe by Claire Macdonald on the UKTV site, Lemon Cream with Rhubarb & Orange Compote and a recent free recipe card, Super Sticky Rhubarb, found in Sainsbury’s supermarket.  Compote can be kept in a sealed box in the fridge for up to four days, so it is worth making a double quantity.  I have already added posts on this site for similar fruit mixtures: Marmalade & Ginger Baked Bananas and Lemony Baked Pears & Peaches.  Other variations will be added below.   These compote recipes can be used to make variations on the simple, creamy & delicious summer dessert Eton Mess.  Slightly strain the compote so that it is not too liquid and alternate spoonfuls of the compote with the cream mixture and meringue pieces, stirring very gently if needed and decorating with a few small pieces of whole fruits and meringue (see Eton Mess recipe for further details).  Any compote liquid not used can be combined with yoghurt to make a smoothie, slightly diluted to taste with water (or milk if the fruits used will not cause it to curdle) for a delicious quick drink or simply used to add sweetness to a fruit salad.  Rhubarb and Raspberry (see below) is very popular in our house and recently we have enjoyed this when mixed with rosewater or drizzled with a little rose syrup as well.  Pear Compote with Lemon, Honey and Ginger (for those who like it) may possibly be reminiscent of cough mixture to some and is definitely a warming winter mixture, but we enjoy it at any time of year.  For an extra treat, pour a small amount of a complementary alcoholic fruit liqueur over these compotes just before serving! 

Additional recipes below:
Rhubarb and Raspberry/Rosy Rhubarb & Raspberry
Pear Compote with Lemon, Honey and Ginger

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Rhubarb & Orange Compote
(Serves 4)

450g/1lb rhubarb, cut into 5cm/2inch chunks
100g/3½ozs demerara or light brown sugar
1 large orange, juice and zest

Oven method: 
1.  Preheat oven to 170oC/325oF/Gas 3

2.  Combine the ingredients in an ovenproof dish.

3.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the fruit is tender but still identifiable.

4.  Serve warm or cold.

Microwave method:
1.   Combine the ingredients in an microwave proof dish.

2.  Cook on a low heat, for 10-15minutes or until the fruit is tender but still identifiable.

3.  Serve warm or cold.

Stove Top/Hob method:
1.  Combine the ingredients in an saucepan.

2.  Bring to the boil and immediately turn down the heat.  Simmer very gently for about 30 minutes, or until the fruit is tender but still identifiable.

3. Serve warm or cold.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Rhubarb & Raspberry/
Rosy Rhubarb & Raspberry Compote

450g/1lb rhubarb, cut into
    5cm/2inch chunks
180g/6½ozs demerara or light brown
    sugar
225g/8ozs fresh Raspberries – more if you
    wish
Rosewater/Rose syrup to taste (optional)

Gently stew the chunks of rhubarb in the sugar until soft but still holding its shape.  If using frozen raspberries add while still warm.  Fresh rasperries can be added when cold.  Chill in fridge until needed. Overstirring raspberries can make them break up.  

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Pear Compote with Lemon, Honey & (optional) Ginger

1-2 Conference Pears per person
1 lemon
1-2 tbsp runny honey
Small piece of root ginger (optional), grated
Peel pears and cut lengthwise into 8-12 long pieces depending on size of pear (or smaller chunks).  Place in a small saucepan.  Cut lemon into quarters.  Immediately squeeze juice over pears pieces before they go brown.  Add empty lemon shells to pan and stew with pear to add flavour.  Drizzle honey over fruit. Sprinkle over ginger if using.  Poach over low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until pears are soft.

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Every so often there is a good recipe on the back of a packet of food that is worth trying out.  This is just such a one.  It proved to be as straightforward as it seemed and was an instant hit with my family: we ate it two weeks running after a repeat was requested.  This is a very colourful dish and has plenty of flavour, with the strong flavour of the smoked fish delicious in combination with the onion and tomato, while the rosemary gives an unusual fragrance.  Actually, the flavour was not unlike the smokiness of bacon.  Smoked fish is often served at breakfast or brunch and this would be an unusual and interesting recipe to serve at that meal. 

The original recipe for Smoked Haddock, Cheese and Tomato Bake came from a packet of Youngs Smoked Haddock and a visit to Youngs Seafood website, advertised on the packaging, led me to a host of other good recipes. I have amended some of the quantities and proportions of ingredients in the original recipe but it is broadly the same.  I do not think the recipe needs any additional salt, but be aware that this depends on the saltiness of the fish and personal preference.  The recipe also recommends using very ripe plum tomatoes if they are available as they give added sweetness to the dish, though other varieties can be used.  I usually add a half teaspoon of sugar to savoury dishes which contain tomato as this helps to counter any acidity in the tomatoes and also gives a little extra sweetness, although this is not detectable.

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Smoked Haddock, Cheese & Tomato Bake
(Serves 4)

375g/12ozs skinless & boneless Smoked Haddock Fillet
3-4 red Onions, sliced
6-8 ripe Tomatoes, Plum if available, quartered
 ½tsp sugar
2 Garlic Cloves, peeled & crushed
2-3 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
½ of a 125g/4oz ball Mozzarella cheese, sliced (freeze remainder for next time!)
50g/2ozs grated Mature Cheddar Cheese
Olive Oil
Freshly ground Black Pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5.

2.  Gently sauté red onions, garlic and tomato quarters in olive oil in a frying pan for 2-3 minutes until tomatoes have softened.  Stir in the sugar and season lightly with black pepper.

3.  Pour the onion and tomato mixture evenly into the bottom of an ovenproof dish.  Place the pieces of Smoked Haddock on top. Season with a little more black pepper.  (Salt can be added, although this is not really necessary as the smoked haddock has already been salted.)

3.  Place the pieces of Mozzarella evenly over the fish and then sprinkle the grated cheese generously over the top.

4.  Place the sprigs of Rosemary evenly top and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

5.  Stand the dish on a baking tray.  Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes covered and then a further 10 minutes with the foil removed, or until golden brown.

6.  A Cucumber & Mint salad makes a refreshing accompaniment and is good as part of a larger green leaf and tomato salad.  Serve with crusty bread.  Alternatively serve the with peas and some minted new potatoes, plus the the cucumber & mint salad.

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Oranges, being expensive to import, were considered a luxury around 200years ago when the tradition of marmalade making was first recorded.  Seville marmalade oranges, which are small and slightly bitter, are available for just a few short weeks in the early part of each year and are not always easy to find: I usually look for them around my birthday in mid-February. Home made marmalade cannot be beaten, despite it being rather labour intensive, but it is definitely worth the effort.  Just play some favourite music or find something good on the radio to make the squeezing and chopping more enjoyable.  My book contains two almost identical recipes: a light coloured one, called Seville Orange Marmalade and the second, a variation of the same recipe, called Dark Seville Marmalade.  I discovered in other books that this second one, which is much darker in colour and always chunky, is often called ‘Oxford’ marmalade as it was first made and sold there, being popular with the university dons and students.  Followers of the Oxford v Cambridge University boat race will be aware that the team colours are dark blue for Oxford and light blue for Cambridge.  With this in mind, I have named the lighter colour ‘Cambridge’ marmalade, though I am aware that marmalade is not blue – or especially connected to Cambridge!

The recipe, which I have adapted for both types of marmalade, comes from my well used jam and pickle book: Home Preserves by Jackie Burrow.  I found that 1½kg/3lb of Seville oranges yielded a too large quantity for my biggest pan, so I divided the mixture between two big pans after the initial cooking time before adding half the sugar to each pan. (This involved straining off the cooked peel as well as dividing the liquid.)  The treacle needed to give a darker colour to Oxford marmalade was added to just one pan.  Some Oxford marmalade recipes also add root ginger, up to 60g/2ozs (depending on personal taste) is suggested for the amount of oranges in my recipe.  As with jams, marmalade cooked for too long can take on a tainted burned flavour.  Dividing the mixture helped it to cook down to setting point quicker, so for this reason I may take this step again in future.  Marmalade making is not a short job, so make sure you allow plenty of time.  The original recipe said it would take 2 hours to cook but my total making and cooking time was nearer 5 hours, although this did include the time taken to divide the mixture into two pans, however once the marmalade is cooking it does not need constant watching.  If you have freezer space, Seville oranges freeze well so they can be used at times when normally unavailable.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

‘Oxford’ (& ‘Cambridge’) style Seville Marmalade
(Makes around 8 x 1lb jars)

1½kg/3lb Seville oranges
2 lemons
3½litres/6pints water
3¾kg/6lb sugar (if making just ‘Oxford’ marmalade then use brown sugar)
2 x 15ml (tablespoons)  black treacle (‘Oxford’ marmalade only)
Up to 60g/2ozs root ginger, peeled & chopped/grated (personal preference) to taste – see above

1.  Wash the oranges and lemons, halve and squeeze out the juice and pour into a large pan.  Put the pips into a muslin bag (I use the cut off foot and lower leg from a clean pair of old tights) and tie so it dangles into the juice in the pan.

2.  Slice the orange and lemon peel into shreds, thickness according to personal taste although traditional Oxford marmalade is very chunky. Add the shreds to the pan, pour in the water and bring to the boil. (If I was adding root ginger, which is not in the original recipe, I would add it at the same time as the peel.) 

3.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 1½hours or until the peels are very soft.  Remove the bag of pips, squeezing well so all the juice drops back into the pan. (Try using this between two spoons as the mixture will be hot.)  This is to allow the pectin contained in the pips to help the marmalade to set.  (It was at this point that I divided the mixture between two pans, straining the peels and liquid so they could be divided more equally.)

4.  Put some saucers in the freezer to chill.  These will be needed when the marmalade is checked to see if it has reached setting point. 

5.  Add the sugar (and treacle if you are making Oxford style marmalade) and stir well over a low heat until dissolved.  Boil rapidly until setting point is reached – a teaspoon of mixture placed on a chilled saucer will wrinkle when pushed with a finger.  Remove any scum that has collected – some people do this by adding a knob of butter but I have not found it to be successful.

6.  Allow the mixture to cool slightly before potting.   While it is cooling, wash the jars well and sterlise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw  it on.

7.  Pour into the prepared jars, cover, wipe if needed and label.

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Stollen is a traditional rich Christmas bread eaten in Austria and Germany.  It is full of dried fruits and candied peel with hidden marzipan centre topped with a drizzle of glace icing.  The way the yeast dough is rolled around the marzipan log is intended to remind us of the cloths that swaddled baby Jesus in the manger.  The usual shape is to simply fold the sides of the dough in over the marzipan centre so there is a central ridge.  I decided to make my Stollen dough into a plait so it looked more like swaddling bands.  I make Stollen on Christmas eve to eat at Christmas morning breakfast.  If there is any left later in the week it is lovely toasted.

The recipe I use comes from the book Delia Smith’s Christmas (1990 edition).  It is worth making a double quantity, especially if you have guests for Christmas. Delia says it freezes very well, though I have never done so.  Despite Delia’s original instructions saying that you should not use easy blend yeast, I have used it very successfully and have amended the instructions accordingly.  The remaining ingredients are as listed in the original recipe, but are simply added in a slightly different order. Delia suggests a light glaze of glace icing, but I simply dust my Stollen with icing sugar, which is more traditional making it much less sweet.  I also decided to make my own marzipan, which was very quick and simple: better than buying it ready made.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Stollen

5fl oz/150ml milk
2oz/50g caster sugar
1 sachet easy blend yeast
12oz/350g strong white bread flour
¼level teaspoon salt
4oz/110g softened butter
1 large egg, beaten
1½ oz/40g currants
2oz/50g sultanas
1½ oz/40g no-soak apricots, chopped
1oz/25g glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and quartered
1oz/25g mixed candied peel, finely diced
1oz/25g almonds, chopped
grated zest ½ lemon
6oz/175g marzipan – home made is so easy!

For the glaze:
4oz (110g) icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
alternatively
1tsp (aprox) icing sugar

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 190oC/375oF/Gas 5

2.  Warm the milk, first of all, till you can just still dip your little finger in it.  Warm the butter until just starting to melt.

3.  Sieve the flour into a large bowl reserving a little to flour the surface when you knead later – about 1oz/25g.   Add the salt, sugar and yeast and combine. 

4.  Pour in the warmed milk, part melted butter and egg.  Mix together well with your hands. 

5.  Begin to pull the mixture together into a ball.  When it is well blended and leaves the side of the bowl cleanly, turn it out onto a floured work surface.  Knead until it starts to lose its stickyness and becomes a smooth ball.

6.  Flatten the ball onto the work surface and pile the fruits, peel, nuts and lemon zest onto the middle.  Fold the edges of the dough over the fruits and continue to knead, distributing the added ingredients as evenly as possible.  If any pieces fall out then just push them back into the mixture.  Continue to knead the dough until it is springy and elastic – about 5 minutes more.

7.  Return the dough to the bowl and leave the dough in a warm place, covered with a clean tea towel or a layer of plastic, until it has doubled in size.  I use the airing cupboard. (The time the dough takes to rise varies depending on the temperature and it could take up to 2 hours.)

8.  Turn the risen dough onto a board floured with the reserved 1 oz (25 g) of flour.  Knead the dough, knocking the air out of it and continue kneading until it is smooth and elastic.  Roll or press out the dough to an oblong 10 x 8 inches (25 x 20 cm).

9.  Using your hands, roll the marzipan into a sausage shape that almost fits the length of the oblong.  Place this along the centre of the dough, finishing just short of the edges.

10.  Either: Fold the dough over the marzipan (for the traditional shape),
or: make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes along the long edges of the dough.  Alternately fold each one over the marzipan to give a plaited appearance, making sure the marzipan is fully enclosed. (This gives the appearance of swaddling bands.)

11.  Carefully place the Stollen on a baking sheet, big enough to allow for expansion. Leave it to prove in a warm place until doubled in size once more.

12.  Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. Leave it to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes and then lift it on to a wire rack to finish cooling.

13.  For a glazed Stollen: Mix the sifted icing sugar with the lemon juice.  Using a small palette knife spread it over the top of the stollen (while still warm).
For a icing dusted Stollen:  Gently sprinkle icing sugar over the Stollen while still warm.  I find the easiest way of getting a fine powder rather than lumps of sugar  is to rub it through a plastic mesh tea strainer or similarly fine sieve.

14.  Serve as fresh as possible, cut into thick slices, with or without butter.  It also toasts well when it is no longer fresh.

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